Growing up my dad instilled in me the importance of good table manners. Hold your fork in the left hand, knife in the right, index fingers placed on top. Cut your food holding it steady with the fork and bring the food to your mouth, not vice versa.
I always took it for granted that others were being taught similarly. Not so in the US of A it would seem.
The first dinner date I had in NYC was at a restaurant I had been eyeing for weeks, too expensive to justify going to with friends, I was delighted when my date suggested it.
We sat down and I eagerly scanned the splendid menu, we made our choices and engaged in witty small talk while we waited for the food to arrive, all going well so far.
When the starters arrived I noticed he spooned his soup towards himself in the bowl, but I could get over that, it’s awkward to eat soup correctly and he was nervous.
Then the mains were presented. Initially he did quite well, holding his fork and knife correctly and cutting his steak with grace. Then before I knew it something happened to my seemingly well brought up, attentive and attractive date; he was replaced with a hog.
His knife lay abandoned at the side of his plate, his face lowered toward the plate and he proceeded to shovel his $50 meal into his face. I was in shock. It was so disgusting to watch that I actually had to look away. My appetite disappeared and I became one of those girls that doesn’t eat on dates, not because I was trying to make a ‘good’ impression you understand, I just couldn’t physically swallow anything, I was so concerned I would vomit as a result of what I was witnessing.
Once the mains were cleared I declined the dessert menu and literally held my breath until he declared that he too was too full for pudding. Phew!
Upon leaving him, with little more than a hand shake (I wasn't getting anywhere near his steak-stained face!), I had an epiphany. No wonder there are so many sushi places in New York. It’s so ex-pats can date Americans!